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We gathered at my parents’ home for Thanksgiving Day. As we are getting things ready and snacking around, my beautiful and talented baby sister rushes to the TV and. being that we are an historically football watching family, I assumed she was turning over to one of the games. Nope! Wrong! What’s this? The National Dog Show, and we ALL completely shut down, tuned-in and made our picks for Best in Show. I was fascinated that my ultra-busy, high achieving, mother of two teenage girls, MD 40 something sister NEW that the National Dog Show was being televised at prime turkey time Thanksgiving Day. How many other people new that? How many others tuned in? And then, after football, Fox has an animal adoption special Thanksgiving night!

The place and perception of animals in our society is transforming rapidly. As animals emerge from an economic asset to an emotional asset, unique opportunities appear to provide products and services previously unimaginable. How you spend your money on your animals is up to you, at least until the government mandates health care for hamsters, and it’s important YOU be happy with YOUR choices. Opinions are so strong on care and treatment, feeding, training, just every facet of the animal world seems to be one that elicits strong emotions one way or another. I am a scientist, pragmatic and somewhat skeptical. I believe in gathering data as objectively as possible and making decisions, and recommendations, based upon my interpretations of well done research. Drugs and devices get approval or rejection, for the most part, in much the same way, but research is being challenged and augmented by evidence. While reported research can certainly be tainted and far from flawless, it is generally systematically reviewed and critiqued and accepted or rejected by a group of unemotional and critical thinkers. Evidence can be held to the same or similar standards when analyzed with respect to known physical laws and processes which allow for pragmatic critique of the evidence presented. With the plethora of avenues for dissemination of information available today, it becomes even more incumbent upon each of us to take a critical look at reports on materials and methods and use our individual judgement and education in deciding what to employ in our practices and lives.

Much of the same can be said about charitable organizations. It appears to me that the website http://www.give.org does a credible job of presenting information on non-profits in numerous fields, including animal entities. While classified as non-profit, these businesses generate millions of dollars in revenues in many cases and many pay sizable salaries to employees. In my opinion, there is nothing at all wrong with this and many, many non-profit organizations fulfill vital missions of public service and job creation and efficient resource utilization. I was amazed to find several organizations which do NOT appear to be meeting the standards of give.org, but who have names very close to organizations which ARE meting the standards for give.org, and often have a wonderful reputation of service to animal and man. Be careful. Be pragmatic. Do YOUR research. Animals elicit powerful feelings from most of us, and our feelings and thoughts are what bring about our actions and results. As animals are elevated in the thoughts, and media, of our society, there will be those who attempt to prey on emotions for economic gain without production of a valuable product. Fortunately, transparency is becoming more and more demanded by our generous society, and the information is available more and more to help you make wise decisions when it comes to charitable giving.

Blessings and peace to all this holiday season. Thanks for stopping by!